Accessibility links

NATO Chief Credits Warming Relations with Russia to Fight Against Terrorism - 2002-12-09


The head of NATO is wrapping up a trip to Moscow, a visit that highlights the growing relationship between Russia and the security organization. But there are still a few kinks in the relationship.

The main topic of the day was global terrorism and how Russia and NATO can work together to fight it.

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, who was in Moscow for a terrorism conference, said it was the threat of terrorism that helped NATO and Russia overcome mutual suspicions leftover from the Cold War. "In many ways, Osama bin Laden was the midwife of an incredible new rapprochement," he said, "but I do not think that in his wildest dreams this fanatical criminal would have thought that he would have ended forever the Cold War and brought NATO and Russia so closely together."

After the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, Russia became a strong ally in the war against terrorism and made improving ties with organizations like NATO a high priority.

This spring NATO and Russia signed a ground-breaking agreement giving Russia a limited say in the security organization.

And last month when NATO invited seven formerly Communist countries to join, Russia, which in the past has been strongly against NATO expansion, barely protested the invitations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after meeting with Mr. Robertson that NATO and Russia see many issues the same way.

President Putin said the NATO summit was closely watched in Russia. He said Russia and NATO have similar assessments of military needs in the new security environment.

But while relations between NATO and Russia are definitely better, they are still not perfect. One area of concern is the breakaway Russian republic where Russian troops have been fighting rebels for three years.

The NATO head said a political strategy was needed in order to achieve a lasting solution to the conflict in Chechnya. Russia has so far refused to negotiate with Chechen rebels, saying they are terrorists.

Mr. Robertson also added that disproportionate use of force can be ineffective or even counter-productive in military actions like those in Chechnya. Human rights officials often criticize Russia for using heavy-handed tactics in the ongoing war.

The crisis in Iraq was also a topic of discussion during Mr. Robertson's visit to Moscow. The NATO leader said the security organization supports the U.N. resolution demanding Iraq disarm. "This is not an argument between America and Great Britain and Iraq," said Mr. Robertson. "It is between Iraq and the whole united international community."

The NATO leader arrived Sunday for the two-day visit.

XS
SM
MD
LG